Patient Stories

Marc Brown

A Journey to Good Health

Marc Brown struggled with his weight for much of his life. After undergoing the laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding procedure in 2008, Marc regained his health and reached a healthy weight.

"I gained much more than I lost. I gained a ton of confidence, discovered a real love for physical activity, and found that, for the first time in years, I like myself."

Marc Brown struggled with his weight for much of his life. He would lose as much as 75 pounds but inevitably regain it. The pounds continued to creep on throughout his 20s. A sedentary job as a computer programmer made it more difficult to keep his weight down, and by 2000, he weighed 340 pounds.

"I continued to gain weight. I was not truly living my life. I was existing from meal to meal. That isn't living," he said. Brown was hesitant when his doctor suggested weight-loss surgery. He attended a Memorial Bariatric Services orientation in 2006 but took nine months to complete the introductory paperwork and follow up with bariatric surgery program coordinators. His weight had reached 398 pounds, but "I still wasn't ready to concede that I couldn't get rid of my burden on my own," he said. He also needed some time to evaluate the laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding procedure and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass to determine which bariatric surgery option was best for him. "In the end, I decided that the laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding procedure best met my personal preferences," he said.

Soon after, Brown met with Dr. Max Hammer and his bariatric team, including a dietician, psychologist and physical therapist. For the next six months, he followed physician-supervised diet and exercise, an insurance company prerequisite for covering the procedure. "I am so thankful for the six months of diet and exercise assistance because it gave me the opportunity to learn how to eat in a healthy, balanced manner. At the end of the six months, I had lost about 50 pounds," he said.

Brown was ready for bariatric surgery, but his insurance company denied his first request to cover the procedure. He worked with Dr. Hammer's office staff, wrote a letter of appeal and resubmitted his request. This time it was approved. "Tears of joy, bouncing around the house, calling everyone to share in the celebration. I did it all," he said.

By the date of his surgery, he had lost 71 pounds. "I'm proud of that loss, though I couldn't have done it without the support I got from the program dietician, my doctor and my family, especially my wife," he said.  He awoke after the procedure with some discomfort and thirst. Pain medications made him comfortable, and soon after he was allowed to begin a liquid diet. His stay in the hospital lasted 12 hours.

He spent the next week recovering at home and eating a high protein liquid diet. "By the end of one week, I was bored and ready to return to work," he said. "I had an appointment with Dr. Hammer and the physical therapist, and was cleared to return to work and to eat soft solid foods." Initially his return to work was very tiring, but he got stronger each day.

He lost 25 pounds the first month after the procedure but struggled with hunger pangs. Six weeks after surgery, Brown has his first laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding adjustment, called a fill. "It helped with the hunger to some extent, but the second fill a month later really did the trick," he said.

Patients who undergo the laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding procedure will have their own unique, individual weight loss patterns. For Brown, weight loss continued at a rate of about three pounds a week, until five months following his surgery. It then slowed to about two pounds per week.

On New Year's Day 2009, Brown dropped below 200 pounds. "This was a huge milestone," he said. "I had reached the point where I'd lost more than half of my starting weight. I now weighed less than I'd lost!" Brown experienced a complication common in bariatric surgery patients in February when he developed gall stones and had his gall bladder removed. "The recovery slowed my weight loss, but not for long," he said.

The weight loss landmarks continued through Spring 2009. Brown achieved a healthy body mass index (BMI) in March, and transitioned from weight loss to weight maintenance in April. Brown said his only regret is "that I took so long to decide to do this for myself. As for the surgery itself? Absolutely no regrets." He said his next goal is "to maintain this loss, to add some muscle to my admittedly scrawny arms, chest and, to a lesser extent, legs, and to tone up the rest of my body. As important as those goals are, a more important one for me is to enjoy my new-found life to its fullest."

Looking back at the year following his bariatric surgery, Brown said, "My results have far surpassed even my wildest imaginings. I've lost 100% of my excess weight. I made a commitment to regain my health, and I did it. I lost 28 inches from my waist, moving from 60 inches to 32 inches. I gained much more than I lost. I gained a ton of confidence, discovered a real love for physical activity, and found that, for the first time in years, I like myself."